For Writers: Getting The Historical Details Right

writeby Andrea
There is no one season for writing, but often the fall feels like a time of rededication – students back to school, weather which encourages staying indoors, even National Novel Writing Month in November if sprint writing is your thing. To help you refocus, through November the Library is offering a variety of free workshops and panel discussions on the craft of writing and the process of self- publishing.

But you know what? We also have a ton of cool books and other items to help inspire you, verify details, and tell your story. Check out these companion lists:


Historical Research

Daily LifeIf you’re writing historical fiction, getting the details right can really help set the atmosphere. The series “Daily Life Through History” details what day-to-day life was like in a bunch of different time periods. Curious what the average prosperous peasant ate in Chaucer’s England? They ate 2-3 lbs bread, 8oz meat/fish and drank 2-3 pints of ale per day. Or find out about common house layouts during the Civil War. Meanwhile, The Statistical Abstract of the United States – put out by the U.S. Census Bureau from 1879-2012 – has statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the U.S. The Value of a Dollar, available for in-library use at the Central Library, can tell you just how much everything cost in the United States from 1600-2014. Wondering if your character could afford to buy new curtains in 1901? Curtains would cost $1-3.50, and a teacher made $6.50 a week.

The Seattle Room

If writing a book set in historical Seattle, the Seattle Room downtown at the Central Library is a treasure trove. Browse through menus from historic Seattle restaurants; look at pictures of historic Seattle; and don’t miss the Sandborn maps – since 1893, this series of maps charts the building history of Seattle down to street detail, including whether buildings were made of brick or wood.

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